NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Over the last year or so, I have traveled somewhat extensively. While I'm not one of these people who spends a majority of the year on the road, by the end of 2013 I will have amassed more than 50 hotel nights (mostly at the same chain) and roughly 20 to 25 roundtrip flights.
The travels reaffirm several obvious points: Try to stay at the same hotel, as to become a regular; buy a solid pair of noise-canceling headphones (I have Bose ear buds); don't take red eye or early morning flights (they can make you less productive); and, as much as you prefer a window seat, never sit anywhere but on the aisle (I like to pee freely and stretch often).
But then there are other not-so-apparent and, admittedly, not quite as useful tidbits of randomness you pick up along the way. But that doesn't disqualify them as meaningful. They matter, particularly if you want to enhance what can be a major beat-down of an experience. Or take advantage of modern conveniences and the wonders of our technologically-advanced society.
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Sure, the airlines might be screwing us, particularly if you remember the days when first class merely meant a better meal, not a better life, but you're not changing the industry so play the game.I risk spoiling myself because, when I travel on my own dime, I usually still spring for the perks, but toss caution to the wind. Here's how I rationalize paying for Main Cabin Select upgrades and the occasional first class upgrade on Virgin America. My company pays for my base fare in a regular coach seat. I don't think it would be right to charge them for any extras so ... I figure, because I am not paying for the ticket, I can drop a couple extra bucks -- typically less than the cost of the fare -- on the upgrade. And, these days, at least on Virgin, an upgrade means more than a better seat. In fact, the better seat is really not even the headline.